Roy Halladay

Former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay tips his cap to the crowd after speaking before a baseball game against the New York Mets, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in Philadelphia. Halladay threw out the ceremonial first pitch in his first appearance at the stadium since retiring last season. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Roy Halladay stood one out away from baseball immortality on Oct. 6, 2010.

The Phillies pitcher was throwing a no-hitter in his post-season debut.

Cincinnati Reds batter Brandon Phillips swung and dribbled a hit a few feet in front of home plate. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz picked the ball up, fell to his knees and threw Phillips out at first base.

The Phillies immediately mobbed Halladay.

It was a performance that will last forever and it was the first thing many Philies fans thought of when they heard the tragic news Tuesday afternoon.

Halladay, 40, died when his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico near St. Petersburg, Florida. He and his wife Brandy had two sons - Ryan and Braden.

"Roy has left such an impression not only to me but a lot of the kids coming up in the game today," former Phillies pitcher and Halladay teammate Cole Hamels told reporters at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night. "He was a man of few words, but you sat back and watched him. His work ethic was second to none. You couldn't beat him to the ballpark."

The Phillies released a statement shortly after the announcement.

"We are numb over the very tragic news about Roy Halladay’s untimely death.  There are no words to describe the sadness that the entire Phillies family is feeling over the loss of one of the most respected human beings to ever play the game.  It is with the heaviest of hearts that we pass along our condolences to Brandy, Ryan and Braden."

The plane, a single engine Icon A5, crashed off the coast of Holiday, Florida at 12:06 p.m. in about six feet of water, according to the Pasco County Sheriff Department. A resident reported the crash to police.

"The worst case scenario happened and it breaks our hearts," Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a press conference in Florida. The sheriff's office marine unit responded to the downed plane and found Halladay's body. 

Police said they couldn't confirm if there were additional passengers on the plane or say where it was headed. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.

Nocco knew Halladay, who was involved in several charity activities with the department. Halladay was nominated several times for the Roberto Clemente Award, given by Major League Baseball to players for sportsmanship and community involvement. The Halladay Family Foundation has aided children's charities, hunger relief and animal rescue.

"We know Roy as a person," Nocco said. ""He loves his wife. He loves his two boys tremendously. He coached their baseball teams."

Halladay, nicknamed "Doc," pitched for the Phillies from 2010 until he retired. He will always be remembered for a throwing a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. Halladay joined Don Larsen of the New York Yankees as the only pitchers to throw playoff no-hitters as the Phillies beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-0 in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. Larsen threw a perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

Phillies chairman David Montgomery recalled congratulating Halladay in a Citizens Bank Park hallway after the no-hitter.

"He was an all-star pitcher," Montgomery said, "an all-star person and an all-star father and husband."

Halladay walked just one batter and faced 28 hitters – one above the minimum. He threw 104 pitches and struck out eight.

"It was a lot of fun," Halladay said after the game. "It's one of those special things you'll always remember. It's pretty neat for me to go out and win a game like that and know there's more to come for us."

Halladay also threw a perfect game for the Phillies, beating the Florida Marlins 1-0 ina  regular-season contest on May 29, 2010. Halladay bought his teammates and Phillies officials watches to commemorate that achievement.

"I even got a watch," Montgomery said. "It was his way of making a statement that this isn't about me it's about us and what we accomplished."

In 2011, Halladay joined with fellow pitchers Cliff Lee, Hamels and Roy Oswalt to form the Phillies “Four Aces” pitching staff. The Phillies won 102 games that season but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the St. Louis Cardinals that season. Halladay pitched the fifth and deciding game of that series losing to Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals 1-0. The Phillies haven’t been back to the playoffs since.

"Everybody always doubted that Philadelphia would have good pitching staff," Hamels said. "When he came into that clubhouse, he assured us that we could have a dominant pitching staff, and we did.":

Halladay spent 16 seasons in the major leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays and Phillies. He retired in December 2013 because of an ailing back. he finished with 67 complete games, an astounding number in this era when bullpens dominated.

Halladay was 55-29 in four seasons with the Phillies, Overall, he was 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA in 416 career games, including 390 starts. He had 67 complete games and 20 shutouts. His resume includes three 20-win seasons, eight All-Star games, and three other top-3 finishes for the Cy Young Award.

"It can be a long, grueling season," Hamels said, "but when you had Roy Halladay on the mound you didn't miss a pitch."

The Blue Jays issued the following statement:

"The Toronto Blue Jays organization is overcome by grief with the tragic loss of one of the franchise's greatest and most respected players, but even better human being. It is impossible to express what he has meant to this franchise, the city, and its fans. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Halladay was famed for his hard work and his almost robotic approach to pitching. But after retiring, he showed a more light-hearted side of himself on twitter.

Former Phillies second baseman Chase Utley recalled on social media Tuesday the first time he met Halladay. It happened at 2010 Spring Training when Utley showed up at 5:45 a.m. Utley noticed a pile of wet clothes next to Halladay's locker and asked if it was raining out. Halladay said, "no, he had just finished his workout."

"That's when I knew he was the real deal," Utley said.

He was an avid pilot, tweeting several photos of him in his plane.

Halladay grew up in Colorado, fascinated with aviation. His father, Harry, was a corporate pilot.

"You look up to your dad always," Hamels said, "and (Roy) had that bug to want to fly. That was his passion. You have to respect that. he prepared for everything. He took things seriously."

Halladay, however, waited until after he retired to pursue his passion for flying. His wife, Brandy, was against him flying at first, but relented after going for a ride with him. Halladay had owned the amphibious plane he crashed for about three months.

"I have dreamed about owning a A5 since I retired! Real life is better then my dreams!!" Halladay tweeted on Oct. 13.

ICON aircraft had posted a video with Halladay trying out a new plane. The video showed Halladay taking delivery of a new ICON A5, a two-seat "light-sport aircraft" that can land on water.

After he retired, Halladay also worked in spring training with Philadelphia and Toronto as a mentor for those team's young pitchers. Halladay helped Hamels learn how to throw a two-seam fastball.

"As we played catch, he was always showing me the grips and what to do and what to expect," Hamels said. "Cliff (Lee) and I would always be playing catch and watching Roy to see how he threw the two-seam. It was a pitch he really mastered."

Halladay's Toronto and Philadelphia teammates took to twitter to mourn his death.

Former Philadelphia center fielder Shane Victorino tweeted:

“Gone too soon my friend!!! Blessed to have shared the field with you as a teammate, competitor, friend and more importantly a brother. Praying for Brandy, Ryan and Brayden.”

Oswalt tweeted: "Heart is broken to hear about Roy Halladay .great friend, teammate, father and husband. One of the best teammates ever! You will be missed!"

Millville resident and Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout tweeted:

"In shock over the terrible news about Roy Halladay... a pitcher I grew up admiring & rooting for. Praying for his family & friends."

Former Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard tweeted:

"Such a sad day. We lost a great ball player but an even better human being. Many prayers to Brandy, Ryan, & Brayden. We will miss you Roy."

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Contact: 609-272-7185
Twitter @ACPressMcGarry

I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.

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